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Boca pays tribute to 9/11 with salutes, song and candles

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The Boca Raton Republican Club used its September meeting to pay tribute to the victims of the horrendous attacks that robbed so many innocent people of their lives on Sept. 11 more than a decade ago.
Hundreds of guests mingled in the lobby of the Marriott in Boca Raton, chattering about the headline speaker, U.S. Rep. Allen West. When he arrived, West was escorted into a private room, where members of the club waited in line to get a professional photo taken with the freshman congressman.

As the meal was served, the ceremonial Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem and invocation were performed, followed by a bonus musical tribute from the Palm Beach County Patriotic Choir. West roused the crowd with a brief speech about American resolve, tying in the Sept. 17 recognition of Constitution Day and giving praise to the living Marine, Dakota Meyer, who made history recently by receiving a rare Medal of Honor by the president for his bravery.

With pride and humor, West told the Marine’s story, saying “he did what Americans always do — they disobey.”

West left for another engagement immediately following his heartfelt words. His wife, Angela, stayed to visit with friends and West fans.

Club Vice President Jack Furnari introduced the speakers for the evening, while President Margi Helschein served as the mistress of ceremonies. The lineup of speakers included Florida Rep. Bill Hager, State Committeeman Peter Feaman, who announced the release of his new book, “Ten Years After and Still Asleep,” and Palm Beach Councilman Bill Diamond, who described how he assisted then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani during the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy.

The highlight of the evening came from the emotionally charged music. The crowd engaged in a roaring sing-along to “God Bless the USA”,  waving a sea of napkins as guests rose to their feet. In a more subdued show of solidarity that ended the evening, Conner Rowland, a local homeschool teen, sang “Amazing Grace,” which moved the crowd to a standing ovation as children from the Palm Beach County Homeschoolers, a local support group, lit up the night with a procession of artificial candles.

Michele Kirk

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